If you are an artist who would like to try the Commons Hostage system to release some work of yours, but aren't sure how to do it, then this is the page for you.
The Commons Hostage is not suitable for every form of art imaginable. It's only really useful for art which can be serialized. That is, art which can be broken up into pieces, so that each piece released will encourage your fans to pay for the next piece.
Some forms of art are more suitable to serialisation than others. An album naturally breaks down into tracks. A book often naturally breaks down into chapters. A film may be serialised into episodes. If you want to use the Commons Hostage to release and get paid for your work, you should consider how to serialize it.
Your work will need to be broken down into parts so that you can ask for a fair price for each subsequent part. If it can't be broken down into parts, it's probably not suitable for a Commons Hostage style release.
We'd suggest you try to keep each part self-contained, as valuable as stand-alone art as it is as part of the series. But remember that cliffhangers and the like are often useful to built interest in the next part.
You don't have to make every part right off, you can (and are encouraged to) leave off making later parts until your audience have shown they have a desire to see those later parts.
However, you should at least have a plan, a list of episodes or tracks or chapters that describe the general arc of the art work. You will, ideally, list each part for your fans so they know what they are paying for.
Once you have a list of episodes, or chapters, or parts, and know roughly what should happen in each, you are ready to begin.
There's no reason for your fans to pay you a penny until you have shown them that you are able, capable, and willing to release things into to Creative Commons. You will need to show them Evidence, and you do this by showing them the fist part of your work.
Until you have made the first part, and the plan, there is no reason for your fans to even be fans, let alone paying fans. Make at least part one before you proceed.
Once you have at least part one of a bit of art you'd like to publish through the Commons Hostage, you're ready to create your account. Click the "Sign Up" button at the top of any Commons Hostage page, and fill in the details.
You do not have to supply an email address in order to create an account, but note that we have no way to know where to send donations unless you do.
You should supply us with the email address of an account which already has a Paypal account. For it is this Paypal address which will receive donations encouraging you to release the subsequent parts.
When you have filled in the registration form, check your email and validate your email address by clicking the link in the email we will send you.
Click the "Your Projects" button at the top of the screen. This will take you to a list of your projects. To start with, you will presumably have no projects at all in the system so this list will be empty.
However, there will also be a "New Project" button at the top of the screen. Click that to add your new project.
You are asked to give the project a name, and a description. Try to make the name as exciting and interesting as possible, for this is the title people will use to refer to your project.
The description should tell your fans exactly what your art project is about. If it's an album you may wish to describe the genre, if it's a book, write the things you'd expect to see on the back of that book to describe the story.
The "Licence" describes which of the freely-copyable copyright licences you'd like your project to use.
It defaults to "Attribution-Sharealike" which means that if anyone copies your work they must make it clear it's you whose work they are copying, and also allow others to copy the work in turn. There are also other Creative Commons licences which you may choose. Change the drop-menu option and then click the logo that appears to read the terms under which they allow your work to be distributed.
You MUST own the copyright of the work you are making available.
You MUST understand that you can't revoke the licence once it's given. Once you give people the right to copy your work, and pass on the right to copy it, you can't later change your mind.
You can change the licence later, but anyone who has already downloaded your work has done so under the understanding they have the rights described in the licence you gave them at the time.
You are asking your fans to donate money to encourage you to release your work to the commons. What currency would you like it to be priced in? Remember that your fans may come from all over the world, paying in every currency from Yen to Dollars. However you likely want it to be paid in the currency you can spend in your local shops. Select that here.
If you select British Pounds, it will not stop people in the USA from paying, and vice versa. However, people paying in a currency other than the one you pick may also end up paying a fee to convert the currency into your preferred format. You should likely pick the currency you'd like to have in your pocket.
Your project will have a fund-raising thermometer displayed by it's side. Each part will have an arrow showing at which point in the fund raising process that part will be released.
If you expect to release a new part for every, say 20 pounds donated, then you should chose a linear scale.
If, however, you intend to (as we recommend) double the price of each subsequent part then this would result in all the prices being bunched up at the bottom of the thermometer, with a big gap before the last part.
Using a logarithmic scale mitigates against this problem, and each episode or part will have an equal spacing on the thermometer even though their price doubles for each episode.
Are you releasing music? Then select music. Are you releasing a video soap-opera? Then select Video-Live action. It should be obvious which type of media you are publishing, and if it isn't then just select "other". It doesn't really matter if you get this wrong.
People searching for projects in the Commons Hostage to find things they are allowed to use and abuse for free will type search-words into our search box. Type into the "Tags" entry a few general words that describe your work. For example, type "Rock" if you're releasing a rock album, or "Sci-fi" if your art is a science fiction series.
Once you have filled in all the details that describe your project in general (note, you haven't described any of the parts of that project yet), click the "Create Project" button.
You will be taken to your Project View page
At the top of the project view page for every project you own, there are four extra buttons:
"Edit Project", "Add Author", "Delete Project" and "New Part"
If you made a mistake inputting the values above when you created the project, or you wish to change them, you can click the "Edit Project" button to alter those answers. This will cause a form to appear in which you can make changes before hitting "Okay" to save your changes.
If your project is a group collaboration between more than one person, you can hit "Add Author" to tell the Commons Hostage who you are collaborating with. You will need to know their username in order to add them to the project, but once you have done so, they will be able to edit it's details and add new parts just like you can do yourself.
The "Delete Project" button allows you to remove your project from our system entirely. BEWARE, we don't necessarily have a backup, if you delete it, it's GONE
The one you will be most interested in at the moment though is the "New Part" button. Click that in order to add a new part to the series you are publishing with the Commons Hostage.
Clicking the "New Part" button brings up a form which allows you to tell the Commons Hostage the details of an episode in your serial.
Every part in your serial should have a name, supply that here, even if it's just "Chapter One" or whatever.
How much money do your want your fans to donate before you will release this part of the series? We highly recommend making the first part absolutely free, that is a zero price. Type "0" into the box to indicate that, but when you add each subsequent part you'll want to increase the price as you go.
The number you type here is the total ransom for the entire project. If you want part two to be released when an extra ten pounds has been collected since part one was released, then you'll need to add the price of part one to this total. If part two should come after another ten pounds (meaning a total of twenty) then type "20" here for the second part.
A description of the episode. Try to sell it, encourage your fans to want to see what happens in this episode, to want to hear this track to see this video. Until the part is released, all they will have to go in is the previous parts and this description.
Not only can each project have tags to help people find it, each part within each project can have tags too. Try to find a few words which describe this particular part of your project, and type them here.
How far are you progressed in producing this part of the project. If all you know is the title and a plan, you should select "Planned", but if you have already started work then you'll want to select "In Production".
If the part is already finished, and you are just waiting until your fans have donated enough for you to release it, then select "Complete, Held Hostage Pending donations" so that your fans know the only thing stopping it's release now is their lack of generosity.
When your fans have donated enough money, the part will automatically be changed to "Complete, awaiting artist upload" and you'll get an email telling you that you should upload this part.
Once it's both paid for and uploaded, Free, available will let your fans know that.
This is where you can tell the Commons Hostage where the next part of your serial lives. The Commons Hostage does not host files for you. If it's a video, we recommend that you upload to youtube. If it's an audio file, we recommend that you upload to soundcloud. If it's an image, try imgrul.com. For plain text try a blogging application like posterous or Blogger.com.
In any case you need to copy the internet address where your file is located into the text box here. If it's one of the services listed above, it should automatically be embedded into your project page. If not, a link to the page will be given to your fans.
You do not need to give us a location until your file is free.. We won't tell anyone where it is until the ransom is raised, but if it's on the internet, someone might find it. We recommend not uploading until the ransom is raised. You need not trust our servers to keep the secret, you can keep it yourself.
Once you have filled in all the details, click "okay" to add this part to your project.
Click "new part" as many times as needed to supply the details of each part of your serialised project. Remember to increase the ransom price each time. We recommend doubling the price for each episode, and starting very low, but you are free to experiment with whatever pricing structure you think best.
This is the proper hard part. Encouraging your fans to find the work and, more importantly, to pay for it.
Your work will be available in the search on The Commons Hostage site immediately, but this will not be enough.
Not even close.
You will need to tell your fans where to find the work, explain the deal, educate them about the Creative Commons, generally do more marketing than you ever thought you could.
The Commons Hostage is not a substitute for a Public Relations Agency, or an advertising agency, or the leg-work of getting the word out there. It is not enough to build it and assume they will come. If your art is any good you will have to ram it down everybody's face for them to take any notice at all.
Donations to your project will appear in your paypal account. These should, in theory, be added to your project automatically. But they may not. You will need to keep an eye on your paypal account, and if necessary adjust the project's total by clicking the "Donate" page yourself and typing the value of donations into the box.
If someone hands you cash, or posts you a cheque, you can add the value of that donation to the project by viewing the "Donate" page for that project. If you are the project owner then an extra form appears there allowing you to add cash-donations to the project total.
You may have to refund money to your fans. You can do that by typing a negative number (IE -9.99 for "subtract nine ninety nine) into the form that only the project owner can see when clicking the "make a donation" button on a project page.
When your fans donate enough money that a part of your project should be released, you will be sent an email.
If you have already uploaded that part and given the Commons Hostage the Location of that part on the web, you will not have to do anything.
However, this is not recommended. If that part was already available, your fans could discover it before it was released.
In this case you will need to log into the Commons Hostage when you receive that email, and let us know the location of the file you are, presumably, just now uploading.
Once you know the internet-address (also known as URL) of that file, once it's finished uploading to youtube or soundcloud or wherever, you will need to select that part of your project, click "Edit Project" and then fill in that address to the "Location" field for that part.
Remember to set the "status of that part to "Free -available" and so let your users find it to start spreading it, and so your reputation, to all their friends.
Don't expect your first project to make you rich, or even to make a profit. You need to build a fan-base before you can make money, whatever publishing model you pick.
There's no charge to create an account on the Commons Hostage and see how much your fans are prepared to pay to make your work free. You do not give away the rights to a track or chapter until the price you asked for a track or chapter is achieved. Why not give it a try? See if it can work?